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Richard Piatt Reporting A lot of people are scratching their heads over a deal Governor Huntsman announced yesterday. EnergySolutions has agreed to stop accepting low-level radioactive waste in its west desert landfill as soon as its current permit runs out.
Many people are skeptical of EnergySolutions. But in a statement yesterday, the company says it wants to follow the rules and be a good neighbor. It says its facilities are considered national assets, serving the American people. However, many people are still wondering what the company is really giving up.
For those opposed to or worried about the EnergySolutions landfill, it almost seemed too good to be true. A news conference announced the end of in-migration of other states' radioactive waste was in sight.
Governor Huntsman, March 15, 2007: "This tower of radioactive waste is not created by Utahns and not wanted."
What the deal essentially means is that once the current landfill is full, it will be closed, and that's it. That will happen in about 15 to 20 years.
It even has long-time landfill critics satisfied. HEAL Utah's Vanessa Pierce says the deal actually looks better to her the day after. But, she says she still feels the need to keep close watch on the company.
Vanessa Pierce, HEAL Utah: "We need to maintain vigilance because it's only due to the public outcry of that we're seeing these decisions being made."
Today, a lot of people are scratching their heads over EnergySolutions signing off on eventually ending a lucrative business in Utah.
Industry and state experts point out that the company probably wants to avoid the expensive legal fight that could come after a future expansion application. In addition, the company has ventures elsewhere, including a similar landfill in South Carolina, a nuclear fuel recycling facility, and hazardous materials management company.
Why Make the Deal?
-Pursue other business
----Nuclear fuel recycling
----Hazardous material management company
Representative Ralph Becker, a long-time critic of the company, says it is the company's future intentions that warrant vigilant attention.
Rep. Ralph Becker, House minority leader: "They obviously have a game plan for their future. We need to be aggressive about that, and maybe have a game plan of our own for what we want to see."
According to EnergySolutions, there's enough space in the current facility to keep it operating for at least another 15 to 20 years. The company is putting money into a fund that will maintain the facility past that time.